—Jane Hirshfield, Poetry, December 2010Kim Rosen interviews Jane Hirshfield at Spirituality & Health: 

In your book Nine Gates, you wrote, “Only a writer who fears neither abandonment nor self-presence can write without distortion.” I keep this on my desktop. What a fierce truth! 
A more recent poem of mine ends, “Think assailable thoughts, or be lonely.” It’s counterintuitive, isn’t it? But think about Whitman or the Greek poet Cavafy. Think about Dickinson’s poems, so awkward to the ears of readers of her own time, so precise and unflinching about everything from mystical ecstasy to the depths of despair. Each of these poets wrote knowing that most of their contemporaries would find them unacceptable, unhearable, in style, in substance. Each wrote from the furnace-heat of experience allowed its full scope, experience that turns self to fuel. Each accepted the solitude of accepted, undisguised strangeness, and yet each knew also that their words might matter enormously, eventually, to others.

Subscribe to Poetry. And for a limited time, sign up to receive our April issue free!

—Jane Hirshfield, Poetry, December 2010

Kim Rosen interviews Jane Hirshfield at Spirituality & Health:

In your book Nine Gates, you wrote, “Only a writer who fears neither abandonment nor self-presence can write without distortion.” I keep this on my desktop. What a fierce truth! 

A more recent poem of mine ends, “Think assailable thoughts, or be lonely.” It’s counterintuitive, isn’t it? But think about Whitman or the Greek poet Cavafy. Think about Dickinson’s poems, so awkward to the ears of readers of her own time, so precise and unflinching about everything from mystical ecstasy to the depths of despair. Each of these poets wrote knowing that most of their contemporaries would find them unacceptable, unhearable, in style, in substance. Each wrote from the furnace-heat of experience allowed its full scope, experience that turns self to fuel. Each accepted the solitude of accepted, undisguised strangeness, and yet each knew also that their words might matter enormously, eventually, to others.

Subscribe to Poetry. And for a limited time, sign up to receive our April issue free!

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